Information About Sea-Level Rise


Climate change is accelerating the rate at which ocean levels are rising. Taking proactive, thoughtful steps to prepare can minimize risk while improving quality of life.


Sea-Level Rise in San Francisco


Flooding in low-lying coastal areas, increased shoreline erosion, and salt water impacts to San Francisco’s wastewater treatment systems is happening today and these impacts are projected to be more frequent and extensive over the coming decades. San Francisco is likely to experience three feet of sea-level rise. If no action is taken to reduce emissions and if land ice melts more quickly than expected, sea-level rise could be greater than five feet by the end of the century. Factoring extreme tides and flooding from major storm events into the equation makes the risk even greater.

There are adaptation solutions available and being applied today in projects across San Francisco. Options being considered by the City range from innovative building design, green infrastructure, and restoring wetlands to elevating structures and adding flood barriers.  More information about these approaches, as well as the science of sea-level rise and what’s at risk can be found in the San Francisco Sea-Level Rise Action Plan.

San Francisco is committed to meeting the challenge and is now developing a Citywide Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan that will identify the most impactful strategies the City can adopt and include a framework for prioritizing projects that improve climate resilience, the economy and San Francisco’s neighborhoods. Informing people about what’s at stake and involving community members in creating the plan is a key priority. Look Ahead provides an opportunity to do just that.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health is also working to build resilience and prepare for the health impacts of climate change. The department released the report Climate and Health – Understanding the Risk: An Assessment of San Francisco’s Vulnerability to Flooding & Extreme Storms which includes a Flood Health Vulnerability Index and related set of interactive maps residents can use to understand the myriad of health risks including how climate change will likely exacerbate existing problems with diseases and pollution, especially in communities of lower socio-economic status. It also created a Flood Emergency Operations Plan and released a Climate and Health Adaptation Framework in March 2017.

Future sea-level rise depends on the amount of global warming, which depends on how much carbon society emits.  That’s why the City of San Francisco is continuing its efforts to reduce carbon emission by meeting climate action goals  including 100% renewable energy for electricity, and increased transit, walking, biking, transit and ridesharing trips.